This article discussed the best things to do in Redlands, one of the prettiest cities in the Inland Empire.
I have wanted to visit Redlands, a city located 60 miles east of Los Angeles for quite some time.
In the past, I have stopped for a short period of time but had a desire to dedicate a decent amount of time to the city.
As a history lover, I couldn’t wait to witness what reminds me of a place “built” by millionaires escaping the frigid East Coast winters. The city didn’t disappoint. Everything is beautiful there: the main business area, the residential neighborhoods, and even the university.
I can’t wait to share with you the many wonderful things to do in Redlands.
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Things to Do in Redlands, California
I do not know about you but I love to visit small towns with a strong link to the past. In California, you have to escape the large cities to find places following that characteristic.
Therefore, it is always refreshing to find places, like Redlands, with a strong identity, sense of community, and a small-town feel even in the midst of a metropolis.
This article concentrates on things to do within the Redlands city limits. I provide some ideas on nearby attractions towards the end.
Stroll Around Downtown
Start (or end) a day of exploration by walking around Downtown Redlands. Here, you will find unique stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and other services.
Plus, you will be able to admire the architecture since many of the district’s businesses are located in historic buildings. You will find the plaques explaining the historic context during your walk.
As with other cities in San Bernardino County, the temperatures in Redland can get burning hot. However, the streets Downtown are covered in trees. See the area as an entertainment oasis.
Shoppers will enjoy stopping by Jack’s Toy Shop, a store full of lovely artifacts for kids, Mozart’s, a place filled with gifts and collectibles, or A Shop Called Quest, a local favorite dedicated comic books, action figures, and other fantasy characters. Dog and cat lovers should take a look at the goods sold at Furry Face.
For breakfast, head to McDuff’s, Crepes of Wrath, or The Eating Room.
You have many options to have lunch, dine or hang out. As an example, check out the places below:
- The State – The food at The State is so memorable. It is hard to stop thinking about their ridiculously good burgers, sandwiches, and entrees. The list of beer, whiskey, and cocktails is impressive.
- Caprice Cafe – This cafe is located in a historic building and counts with an outdoor patio. You can have dishes such as quiche, risotto or trout.
- The Gourmet Pizza Shoppe – This pizza joint is celebrated by its unique (and delicious) topping combinations. Imagine having a yellow curry, chicken kabob or orange chicken pizza. Well, it is possible here. They serve pasta, salads, and sandwiches too.
- Kluddes Kitchen & Bar – This place is notorious for its long list of local (Californian) beers. Food served includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, carne asada fries, and tacos
- Cuca’s Mexican Food – This simple joint serves Mexcian classics such as tacos, burritos, chiles rellenos, tostadas, and quesadillas.
If you still have room for ice cream after eating, make sure to try one of the cones at Nicho’s or a la Minute Ice Cream. The State Street Winery offers wine flights or glasses.
Make sure to take a look at the Sister Cities Clock in Ed Hales Park.
Creatives would love to check out the Redlands Art Association, a non-profit offering adult classes, youth classes, and workshops. The on-site gallery is open from Monday to Saturday and offers rotating exhibits.
Photograph Orange Street Alley
If you spend some time on Instagram (or other social networks), you may have noticed a trend where streets, around the world, are covered with umbrellas. You can find streets like this in Bucharest, Quebec, and Bangkok.
Well, Southern California, is not the exception. The Orange Street Alley, in Downtown Redlands, has been covered in colorful umbrellas. You can walk by or stop by one of the restaurants that have patios on the alley. This is definitely a cool spot to check.
Tour Historic Redlands
As mentioned, Downtown Redlands is located in a historic district. If you want to dig deeper into the history and architecture of the city, you should walk a little bit outside the Downtown area and take a look at some of the most prominent buildings.
A walking tour pamphlet can be obtained at the Visitor’s Center (14 North 5th Street).
On Orange Street, north of Downtown, you can find the Santa Fe Station (the old train station), the Deming Building, and other early business buildings.
South of Downtown, still on Orange Street, you can admire the old city hall, the Fox Theater, and the Congregational Church.
There are many more structures to marvel at. The city is full of spectacular places.
Admire the A.K. Smiley Public Library
As a book lover, libraries and bookstores fold a special place in my heart. That is why I was so excited to visit the A.K. Smiley Public Library.
The building housing the library was gifted to the citizens of Redlands by Albert K. Smiley. The architect in charge was T. R. Griffith.
Now, this is a building like no other. Its design has been described as Mission Revival while others claim it is Moorish Revival. I have to agree with the second opinion since the curvy lines of the facade make feel in Southern Spain.
The inside has high ceilings, stained glass, woodwork, and an enclosed garden. By the way, this is a working library. You can take a look at the grounds without interrupting patrons.
A statue commemorating Smiley, and his brother, can be found in the adjacent park.
Learn About One of the Most Respected Figures in American History
The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is another one of Redlands’ gems. Robert Watchorn, an admirer of Lincoln, donated the building to the city in 1932. The shrine was also built-in memory of his son who died from wounds inflicted during World War I.
Architect Elmer Grey, who designed the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Pasadena Playhouse, completed the initial octagonal structure. With time, two wings, a patio, and fountains were added.
Inside the shrine, you can find a Carrara marble bust of Lincoln, murals, paintings, and statues. In addition, the is a collection of books, manuscripts, and artifacts.
This is the only Lincoln memorial west of the Mississippi River.
Catch a Performance at the Redlands Bowl
Every summer (June – August), locals and visitors are welcomed to attend the music festival that takes place at the Redlands Bowl (officially called the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival).
Every Tuesday and Friday, people flock to the amphitheater to hear live music or watch theatrical performances. What makes these performances special is that they are free of charge. Everything works on a first-come, first-served basis.
A Shakespeare Festival takes place during May.
Don’t Miss the Period Homes
I have talked about Redlands’ historic Downtown and buildings. Well, there is way more besides what I have discussed.
During the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Redlands was the winter grounds of wealthy East coast residents (because of the mild weather). It has been called the “Palm Springs” of those times.
As a consequence, Victorian, Mission Revival, and California bungalow houses were built. Brick-front stores and elegant hotels were erected. Palms were planted along the main streets. Not for nothing is Redlands known as the “Pearl of the Inland Empire.”
Nowadays, about 350 of those structures remain. Most are privately owned but you can drive around and admire what is left of a grandiose past.
There is a historic district around Smiley Park (around Cajon Street and Olive Avenue). If you prefer to drive, take Cajon Street south (towards Prospect Park). That street is lined with tall palm trees and tons of beautiful houses.
Visit the Kimberly Crest House
And, you cannot miss the queen of all-period houses in Redlands, the Kimberly Crest House.
The French chateau-style Victorian mansion was built by one of Redlands’ pioneers. In 1905, the house was sold to John Alfred Kimberly, the co-founder of the Kimberly-Clark company (brands include Kleenex and Huggies). Kimberly’s wife added the gardens. The property was donated to the city of Redlands by Kimberly’s daughter.
Tours are offered by docents (the cost is $10). You can visit the mansion (without entering) and gardens for free.
Stop by the Historical Glass Museum
This museum has the largest collection of American-made glass west of the Rocky Mountains. They collect pieces from factories that are going out of business as well as from factories that are still booming.
The museum offers tours and seminars. Also, the institution is located in a 1903 Victorian-style house.
See a Piece of Mission History
If you are familiar with California history, you may know that Spaniards colonized most of the state by establishing missions, pueblos, and presidios. Modern cities grew from these settlements. We even continue using the route that connected them (the Camino Real which is followed by US-101).
Some missions had asistencias or sub-missions. For example, the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (located in the city of San Gabriel, close to Los Angeles) had the San Bernardino de Sena Asistencia. It was a way to expand their power over the territory.
The remainings of the asistencia can be visited. The property administered by the Redlands Conservancy featured the original adobe buildings and the bells tower. There is no staff on-site but you can call to schedule a tour (for a fee). Drop-in visits are welcomed on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Learn About Culture and Science at the San Bernardino County Museum
The San Bernardino County Museum is a place to visit with the entire family. You will probably want to dedicate 2 or 3 hours to the facility. I do not recommend rushing a visit.
Exhibitions include the Hall of History (explaining how the Inland Empire was populated), the Hall of Science (presents info about fossils, tectonic plates, and similar topics), the Hall of Biodiversity (describes live in the desert), Minerals Rock, a locomotive, garden and much more!
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Parking is free. Admission is free the first weekend of every month if you are a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholder.
Tour the University of Redlands
I know it sounds a bit weird to tour a university but people do ut all the time. In Europe, people go to Oxford, Coimbra or Salamanca to see the old universities. In the U.S., we can go to Harvard or Standford.
So, if you are in Redlands, do not miss its university. This private institution has some awesome buildings. You can walk around checking the Memorial Chapel and the Office of Admissions. You can take a look at the halls, library, and Greek theater. The campus has many open areas, trees, and public works of art.
Challenge Yourself at an Escape Room
Escape rooms have gained popularity since they provide a dynamic experience that can be shared with others.
In Redlands, Open Door Escape Games offer three different experiences on their two locations (one is located Downtown and the other in Alabama Street). These are rated by level of difficulty and target different audiences (two are apt for children over 8, the participants on the other activity need to have over 16 years old).
These escape rooms have excellent ratings and are open till 11:00 p.m.
Taste Craft Beer
If you haven’t heard, craft beer has swept over California. The state has over 950 craft breweries. So, it is not a surprise that you will find some cool breweries in Redlands.
Options include the following:
- Escape Craft Brewery – This is a family and dog-friendly brewery with locations in Downtown, Nevada Street and Laguna Niguel. The Downtown location has food offerings
- Hangar 24 Redlands – This brewery/pub offers a regular selection of beer on tap plus limited release and barrel series. They create their own sodas as well.
- Ritual Brewing – Yet another popular brewery in the Redlands area. The plus is that this brewery has 24 beers on tap.
Attend an Event
Like other cities in Southern California, Redlands has a varied event offering catering to both locals and visitors.
Annual events include :
- Run Through Redlands (March)
- Redlands Bicycle Classic (April)
- Airfest (May)
- Safe Trick-Or-Treat Event
- Movies in the Park (Summer)
- Redlands Symphony (Various Dates)
- Redlands Theatere Festival (Various Dates)
The Redlands Market Night, a big evening farmers market, takes place every Thursday from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Note: Many sites discussing Redlands activities include Splash Kingdom Waterpark. However, this park has closed permanently.
Things to Do Near Redlands
If you still need more reasons to visit Redlands, here are other attractions you can enjoy in the area.
Oak Glen (17 miles) – Oak Glen’s prime season is fall since this is when apples are ripe. People visit to pick apples, eat all things apple (pancakes, cider, donuts), listen to music, and walk around the Oak Glen Preserve.
Wildwood Canyon State Park (12 miles) – The park offers panoramic views of the surrounding valleys, miles of trails, and picnic sites.
Box Springs Mountain Reserve Park (25 miles) – Another protected area offering views from a 3,000-foot elevation.
Yucaipa Regional Park (12 miles) – This park has lakes (with beaches), campsites, picnic spots, and many other amenities.
Casinos – If casinos are your thing, you can visit the San Manuel Casino (10 miles) or the Morongo Casino, Resort, and Spa (30 miles).
San Bernardino National Forest – Redlands is located minutes from trails, campsites, and cabins in the San Bernardino National Forest. The resort towns of Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead are approximately one hour away (40 miles).
Redlands is located 60 miles from Los Angeles, 112 miles from San Diego, and 45 miles from Pals Springs.
Most visitors arrive at the city by car. A visit to Redlands makes a great day trip from cities located in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. it is also a wonderful stop en route to Palm Springs (from LA).
The nearest international airport is located in Palm Springs. However, the Palm Springs airport is at its busiest during winter (high season). During other seasons, it is easier to fly to Los Angeles.
Get ready for a day of sightseeing by bringing the right gear. Here is a list of the items I would pack to explore Redlands attractions.
- Walking Shoes – Comfortable walking shoes are a must. I recommend investing in a good pair. My go-to brands are Clarks, Tevas, and Sketchers.
- Anti-Theft Bag – Keep your belongings safe by keeping them in an anti-theft bag. The ones manufactured by Travelon have a 5-points security system including an RFID blocking pocket. >>Check out their crossbody bag here If you prefer a backpack, this one is a good option
- Sweatshirt – A sweatshirt is a must to keep me warm during chilly mornings and nights. >Click to see this California appropriate option here
- Sun Block – Do not leave the house (or the car) without applying sunblock. I repeat, always wear sunblock when outdoors. >Buy sunblock here
- Lip Balm with Sunscreen – Protect your lips by applying a balm with sunscreen. >Get one of the best lip balms here
- Wide Brim Hat – A wide brim hat is a great way to protect your scalp, face, and neck. The ones manufactured by FURTALK come with an anti-UV function. >Buy this amazing hat here
- Hand Sanitizer – Do not forget to pack hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
- Sunglasses – These are another must when it comes to protecting from the sun. A polarized, sporty pair works better outdoors. >Take a look at this wonderful pair
- Water Bottle – Do not forget to bring water! Keep yours cold by taking a beautiful Hydro Flask water bottle. >Check out the insane options here
- THERMOS Tumblers – I have been a fan of the THERMOS brand since I received a tumbler as a gift. The tumblers keep drinks hot for hours. >>Buy THERMOS insulated tumblers here
- Camera – I have never gotten used to taking pictures exclusively with my phone. I prefer to use the Sony Alpha a6000. It is compact and takes gorgeous pictures. >Buy Sony Camera here
- Tripod – A compact tripod to take your photos and videos to a different level. >>Check out this popular option here
- Portable Power Bank – It is a pain to keep phones charged on trips (more if you are taking pictures, posting on social media, and navigating). Having a power bank is a lifesaver. The Anker portable charger can charge a phone 5 times. >Buy this incredible power bank here
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions I get about Redlands tourism, attractions, and activities.
What are some things to do in Redlands for free?
Most of the suggestions provided in this article can be enjoyed free of charge. To summarize, you can stroll Downtown, visit the Orange Street Alley, tour the historic part of the city, stop by the A.K. Smiley Public Library, pay your respects at the Lincoln Memorial, walk around the University campus, and attend events without paying a dime.
Visiting the outdoor area of the Kimberly Crest House is free. Even the performances at the Redlands Bowl are free.
What are some things to do in Redlands at night?
Downtown Redlands is a lively area especially during weekend and market nights. Establishments to visit include Kluddes Kitchen & Bar, Flamingo, The Royal Falconer Pub, Copebar House, and Tartan of Redlands.
Breweries are also nice places to spend part of the evening.
The two escape rooms in town are open until 11:00 p.m.
Besides, I get a lot of questions about things to do in cities located near Redlands. For example,
What are some things to do in Riverside?
Things to do in Riverside include Mount Rubidoux Park, Mission Inn, UC Riverside Botanical Gardens, and Downtown Riverside.
What are some things to do in San Bernardino?
Things to do in San Bernardino include the Original McDonald’s, Glen Helen Regional Park, San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum, and California Theater of the Performing Arts. Also, locals love to visit the lakes located within the San Bernardino National Forest (Big Bear Lake, Arrowhead Lake, and Silverwood Lake).
What are some things to do in Yucaipa?
In Yucaipa, you can visit the Wildwood Canyon State Park, Yucaipa Community Park, and several museums. Yucaipa is located between Redlands and Oak Glen.
I hope you have enjoyed touring Redlands with me. If you have not visited yet, I am sure you will make an effort to stop by!
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What other fun things to do in Redlands do you recommend? What do you think about the city?
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